Monday, December 31, 2007

Adios 2007!

I haven’t written here in ages; that’s quite obvious by now. I hate to toss out alibis for every little misstep I take, but I’ve been really burned out. One of the main things that tired me out was blogging here and for the last few weeks I hadn’t been as attentive to publishing there as I would usually be.

Nevertheless, I’m eagerly looking forward to a renewed spirit of work and excitement in the upcoming year. 2007 wasn’t a terrible year nor was it an extraordinary one. It was ennui, plain and simple. Next year will not be the case and I will strive to make sure that it is memorable for all the right reasons.

There’s a cliché that goes “here’s hoping for the best and expecting for the worst” (or something like that). For my goals in the year ahead, the saying will be “here’s hoping for and obtaining the best.” In that there will be no doubt!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The pressure cooker

I've been a nervous, over-stressed wreck for the past 2-3 weeks.

I've had a lot on my plate lately and certain things have accumulated at the same time.

Something's got to give. I just don't know what. And I need to make up my mind very soon before I breakdown and get nothing accomplished.

I'm going to sleep on it for tonight. But hopefully I'll have something figured shortly after I awake in about 6 hours time.

Ugh. Mega ugh.

Update (December 19, 11.45am):

Well, I finally figured out what to do.

After much though I decided to shift the thesis. It’s really the easiest thing I can move for now while I take care of more pressing issues such as the U.N. work.

I don’t know how I’ll be able to break it to mom. But I’ll have to do it.

I really hope I made the correct choice.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The genius of Oscar Niemeyer

I hate to post video clips two days in a row and I especially don't like to do memes. But I'm still feeling funky and ill (as in sick not cool). Hence, I'm going to play it easy for this post.

Earlier tonight as I was messing around on Wikipedia I found that famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer will celebrate his 100th birthday tomorrow. Since I just celebrated my 28th birthday yesterday it led me to think of what I've accomplished, my potential, and the hope that I won't be facing a mid-life crisis sometime in the next dozen years. (I'll probably get into more detail over those things tomorrow).

Anyway, below is a trailer of a 2007 documentary on Oscar Niemeyer which features his work, inspiration from his native Rio de Janeiro, and interviews with the likes of Chico Buarque. I wrote about it today on The Latin Americanist, but it's worth repeating here on my personal blog.

Genius may take on many forms; in the case of Oscar Niemeyer, it is evident in his sketches and the many buildings that carries his vision.

(Video link):



Thursday, December 13, 2007

Woody and the bookstore

Ugh.

That's how I've felt today.

Bland. Sickly. Ennui.

And on my birthday, no less!

Ugh.

I've been trying to cheer up a bit by watching YouTube clips of some of my favorite films like The Party and Sleeper.

This scene from Bananas made me laugh the most, partly since a similar experience happened to me eons ago. Yet right now I'm not in the most energetic state to describe it. Thus, here it is courtesy of the inimitable Woody Allen:

Sunday, December 09, 2007

De Musica Ligera: As cool as Kelley Deal

The Breeders, circa 2002. (Image source).

Unfortunately, my musical enjoyment throughout childhood was hindered by my parents. For the most part their musical tastes were distinct from mine and they had little patience for what I liked if it differed from them. Though they didn’t specifically forbid me from listening to certain forms of music, they did raise a big stink when I made it public. Hence, I had the tendency to listen to many different musical genres behind their back.

The first time I heard The Breeders was while watching MTV in the early 90s. A few months after we first installed cable TV at home I caught sight of the music video for “Cannonball”. The video was eye-catching and very interesting visually. But what most caught my attention the brief portion of the chorus when she said “In the shade, in the shade” very sweetly and then repeated it with her sister Kelley. To me it seemed like a siren’s call; a call to come and join them to relax.

Though the rest of “Cannonball” had nothing to do with that, it was that snippet that was my invitation to buy the cassette of Last Splash and listen to an infinite amount of times. It also compelled me to try to catch their videos on TV as many times as possible. (Hence, this post). Obviously, this was all done without my parents’ knowledge despite my desire to play it loudly on the living room stereo instead of surreptitiously on my Walkman. It was weird to have to grow up and be two-faced; one side publicly enjoying Billo’s Caracas Boys and Lisandro Mesa, while also quietly liking The Breeders, Miguel Bosé, and Smashing Pumpkins.

A few days ago it was announced that The Breeders will release a new album in April and embark on a concert tour. As you might imagine I’m eagerly looking forward to it and hope that past vices have not hurt Kim and Kelley’s voices too much.

More importantly, there’s a living room stereo where Mountain Battles will be playing at full volume in a few months time. Regardless of the tastes of others.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Fun Fair

I've been a little too irresponsible blogging here which is why I aim to do double posts this weekend. Hopefully my arms won't detach from their sockets by Sunday evening!

The following video
is a small preview of one of the topics I'll write about over the weekend.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Reminiscing about the “motherland”

For the first time in four years my family will not be traveling to Colombia over the holidays. I’m feeling a little upset about that since I will be missing many things:
  • Screaming at the TV while watching soccer club along with my futbol-crazed cousins.
  • Being able to enjoy a taxi ride in what can be described as a golf cart with windows but for a small fraction of the cost compared to NYC.
  • Heading to the corrientazos and savoring a hearty meal along with everyday people.
  • Eating at El Corral and Crepes & Waffles with the not-so-everyday people.
  • Holiday shopping at San Victorino in lieu of the ultramodern new shopping malls.
  • Reading El Tiempo as a tangible newspaper rather than straining my eyesight reading online.
  • Playing cards with aunts and cousins straight through the evening (and winning!)
  • Partying into the New Year but not before everyone gets blessed by grandmother at midnight.
  • Watching the sunrise on New Year’s Day after dancing and drinking far more than one should.
  • Visiting my family which lives in different neighborhoods around Bogota instead of being stuck around a hotel in the more affluent northern part of the city.
  • Trying my hand at sapo and tejo after taking a delightful swim in the pool at Murca.
  • Getting up at the crack of dawn to eat breakfast, whether it is the complimentary one at the hotel or the one made with lots of love by my grandmother.
  • Arguing over which team is more “cursed” - Millonarios or Red Bull New York.
  • Quarreling over domestic politics such as the best way to handle the hostages kidnapped by guerillas or how corrupt the Uribe administration really is.
  • Regaling cousins with descriptions of South Park episodes that have not aired over there.
  • Not freezing my assiduous self off in NYC by sweating profusely in La Palma or getting drenched by the latest rainfall in Bogota.
  • Watching Citytv, Señal Colombia, and the CM& news while making fun off some of the sappy holiday adverts, Jorge Baron, and dubbed Hollywood films.
  • Trying to convince others that reggaeton and rancheras are not the only types of “good” music by making them listen to Los Amigos Invisibles, the Pixies, TV on The Radio, and Airiel.
  • More than anything listed above, being surrounded by loving family members who are appreciative and unbelievably nice.

Not everything there is paradise and there are certainly some things I miss when I was over there. (i.e. not using my motorized wheelchair, not having Internet at all). Yet as I gradually realize that I will not be spending the holidays there I have become increasingly appreciative of the Colombian people, customs, and culture. It will be difficult to cope not being there this year though I have faith that by this time next year I’ll have my bags packed and will be ready to travel!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Equality (redux)

I hate to replay a video already featured here before, but I'm posting the following YouTube clip in honor of the annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons.

(Video link):

Saturday, December 01, 2007

It's not easy being a chef

I wonder who would win a confrontation between the "lobster banditos" and the Minutemen?

I would place my bet on the crustaceans; pincers and revolvers can be a lethal combination!

(Video link):

Friday, November 30, 2007

De Musica Ligera: Downtempo

Zero 7 including Jose Gonzalez and Sia (image credit)

It’s Friday and therefore it’s time for our weekly music post.

Of the numerous music folders I have on my laptop one of the most listened to is labeled “Downtempo”. That folder holds roughly 125 songs that are relaxing and mellow including some tunes that correspond to the “chill out music” genre.

Last week I recalled a Si*Sé concert I went to several years ago. Their music would definitely be described as “chill out,” though to be more specific they could be classified as trip hop en español.

When I was studying in Miami eons ago one of my best friends was a classmate from a few international relations courses. She also worked as a part-time receptionist at that department so when I would visit her often when I was feeling particularly bored and with a bit of time to kill during the day. Usually she would have stretches of work lasting hours when there was very little to do. Hence, our conversations helped us mutually combat our daily dullness.

Music was amongst the many topics we would discuss. She enjoyed a few genres of music and in particular trip hop and IDM. She didn’t like the music on its own but instead since she adored spending her free time relaxing in lounges where that sort of music is played. While I preferred to stretch out in bed alone in my dorm late at night and listen to Massive Attack and Zero 7 she opted for weekend outings to lounges and bars in South Beach.

During the course of our friendship I tried to take her ask out a few times and hang out in her proffered environment. I even tried taking her out to some nice places around Union Square and SoHo during a trip to NYC. But for reasons beyond my comprehension she never really wanted to do so with me. Though I’m certain we would have had an enjoyable time together I don’t mind that we didn’t do so. I suppose that’s the way it crumbles…cookie-wise.

After a harsh and stressful week of school and work (this week being no exception), there is nothing better than to sit back and unwind sipping a hot cup of tea and listening to some “Downtempo” music. I may be in my stuffy shared bedroom in Queens rather than alone in a Miami dorm, but the music is soothing and harkens back to some good memories.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Keltic Dreams

The dance troupe in the video below performed briefly during the luncheon I attended Wednesday afternoon. Their dancing was breathtaking and their singing was angelic. For me it was the highlight of the entire event. (More details on the luncheon soon).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oratory

This may sound highly unusual but I love to do public presentations. Whether it involves giving a speech, making a toast, or doing a presentation I absolutely enjoy speaking in front of crowds. Given I have a raspy, soft voice that is barely audible but I really like public speaking.

Nevertheless the problem with my oratory in public has to do with preparation. More specifically, I have a terrible time figuring out what to discuss and being sufficiently prepared for it. Rather than feeling petrified in front of the audience I become a wreck before appearing in front of a crowd.

Tomorrow I will be attending a luncheon at the Consulate General of Ireland located in midtown. I’m not completely sure if the event is related to the Physically Challenged Irish and American Youth Team though I suspect that something similar to what occurred in May could happen:

Though I was not told to prepare a speech I knew I had to have one ready just in case I was instructed to speak. Sure enough, after arriving to the ballroom where the luncheon was being held I was greeted with a bear hug by the charity’s director and subsequently instructed to speak to the audience soon after.

“I just want you to greet these kids and welcome them to the States and tell them a bit about yourself.”

“No worries, sir. I’ve had it all planned out for days.”

“Just make it short cause there’ll be a lot of things to do.”

“Trust me Bill. Everything’s under control,” I replied while recalling all the mistakes I had made in the previous year’s speech such as drawing blanks, forgetting my main points, and stammering terribly.

Though I was feeling terribly overanxious less than two days before speaking, I was inspired at the last second and things worked out very well.

Ideally I would have preferred to think of something entirely original and not base my possible speech on a song or a quote. However, desperation caught the best of me and earlier today I found what could be the ideal quote from Irish novelist Edna O’Brien:

“When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.”

After mentioning that quote I would go on to describe how that accurately describes the many disabled children aided by the charity over the years. Though they may not have all the physical capacities that others have, these children and young adults have the heart and determination to move forward and strive to become productive members of society. They do not ask for handouts or pity but rather the chance to contribute to themselves and others for the greater good of us all. They appreciate all the support and morale people like you provide for much like the trees that O’Brien alluded to these kids stand tall and blossom the fruits of their labor.

Wow. That felt like a mouthful.

I have a hunch that I’m definitely prepared for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The reality behind "reality"

How I really wish there would be a U.S. version of "Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe". Pure genius.

(Video link):

Friday, November 23, 2007

De Musica Ligera: Si*Sé


Every Friday I will dedicate a post exclusively to music. It’s an idea I’ve copied off the other blog I worked on including repeating the same post title. For this blog I’m unsure if I will place a common theme to each post or just throw out a potpourri of different songs. For the time being, I’ll opt for something different and focus on one musical group.

One of the first concerts I attended after graduating in F.I.U. and returning to New York was at SOB’s in 2004. The band that played on a sultry summer night was trip-hop group Si*Sé. I felt awkward being there since I went alone and I typically tend to shy away during gatherings when I don’t recognize the other people there.

Since it was the first time I had gone there I called the club ahead of time to find out if the place was wheelchair accessible, especially the men’s room. The employee I talked to affirmed that it was completely accessible, so imagine my surprise when I find out the bathroom was too narrow. Thus, I felt more awkward sitting in a dark corner away from the bar in order to avoid drinking any cold, sweet booze. (After the concert finished I had to duck into the nearby McDonald’s Express to use their facilities. Price of usage – one cheeseburger and six McNuggets to go).

Aside from that inconvenience the gig itself was absolutely amazing; Carol C.’s voice is so smooth and it’s complemented incredibly well by the rest of the group. The music is equal parts catchy, tropical, and urban. This may seem a little hard to believe, but they sound many times better live than on their albums. Though Carol C.’s vocals are exceptional, the sum of the parts is what makes Si*Sé so alluring.

Oddly enough the first time I ever heard Si*Sé was on a flight to Miami, which is a very appropriate locale for their style of music. (With all due respect to my native NYC, that is). That song was “Cuando” and after getting goose bumps and chills listening to it I made sure to steal the music channel guide in order to download it after arriving home.

Si*Sé will be appearing at SOB’s next Friday. At this time I don’t know if I’m going to go since I’m so occupied and I’m usually spent by the end of the week. Yet one thing is for sure: those that go will definitely not be disappointed with Si*Sé.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving thoughts

Today was a day of reflection for me in that I decided to spotlight those things that I am and should be eternally grateful for:
  • Health – My physical health has been pretty good over the past few months and that has been rectified via a battery of exams. (e.g. blood tests, x-rays, EKGs, stress tests). Mentally has not been as good, especially over the summer when I was feeling lonely and isolated from others. However, my mind has been far from being as god awful as it was during my darkest days years ago. All in all, not terribly bad.
  • Family – Although I won’t travel to see my extended family in Colombia for the first time since 2004, I feel incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by my brothers and mom. Given, it has not always been a smooth relationship yet they’ve helped me when I’ve been down and they are the main reason I have to live. If it weren’t for them I would’ve been dead and buried ages ago. (I assure that is not an exaggeration).
  • Friends – Earlier this evening I decided to send an e-card to about forty friends, past and present. At some time in the past they have impacted my life in a positive way. For that I am eternally grateful and I sincerely hope that they comprehend how much I appreciate them all.
  • Potential – Despite my constant complaining and cynicism I’m thankful that I still dream of a better future for myself and for those close to me. They deserve it, now and always. Our goals can be reached and we will keep striving onward until they are obtained.

Ultimately, life is what we make of it. That’s why I’m grateful for all the positive aspects of life and hopeful that we can overcome whatever obstacles try to knock us down.

Monday, November 19, 2007

English for Dummies (Version Colombiana)

I'm going to cheat and post a video tonight. (In defense of such a decision, I had 3 hours of sleep last night, wasted my morning arguing with civil servants, and the video itself is quite funny).

The following is a humorous routine from a Colombian TV program entitled "Sabados Felices" ("Happy Saturdays"). The "teacher" is giving English language lessons for Colombian slang and colloquialisms.

Those who aren't familiar with some of these sayings (i.e. "Y la Ñapa?") will most likely have a difficult time understanding what he's saying. Yet those that understand American and Colombian cultures will surely chuckle heartily at the routine.

Video link:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The new rules

I’ve finally figured out the new rules for HP after taking far too much time thinking about it. They’re fairly simple and hopefully I can stick to them and make this blog at least marginally more interesting:

1- There will be at least five posts per week.

2- Each of these posts must focus on a different subject and be at least three hundred words long.

3- In addition to theses five posts, there may be one to two additional posts weekly focusing on an interesting video I have found. These posts have no min/max word limit.

4- The new rules shall start on November 19th.

That’s it. Not much more to say beyond that.

See you later, ladies and germs.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dreaming of a sane Christmas

I’ll explain the new format at a later time. At this time more pressing matters need to be examined.

I do not usually have a holly, jolly attitude over the December holidays, but I tend to look forward to them as a time for peace, respite, joy, and unity.

This year will be a lot different.

Christmas was my dad’s most anticipated and favorite holiday. He loved it since it reminded him of his youth in Colombia, and it would serve as his vacation time from work. Thus, he would always build ornate nativity scenes to go along with our Christmas tree. Villages would spring to life in a carnival of lights, porcelain buildings, figurines, and trains. Despite return from work bone tired he would dedicate several hours nightly to the design, construction, and transformation of half the living room into a veritable winter wonderland. After several weeks of laboring over the holiday scene he would enjoy every detail of the completed masterpiece. So much so that he would not take it down until late January and sometimes February.

This year marks the first time that my immediate family will not be spending the holidays in Colombia since dad passed away two years back. Even though we have had a reasonably good time the past three years we’ve been there, we just cannot afford to spend another couple of thousand dollars on the trip. In addition, time is not at a premium as it had been before since one of us working full-time while the rest are trying to sort our own odds and ends.

Over the summer I begged my mom to go alone to Colombia for two weeks in the autumn. I explained to her how therapeutic it would be for her and for our family there. It would definitely be affordable though my main concern was her mental well-being. I was worried that her being at home for the holidays would be too difficult for her to cope with. On a more selfish note, I was worried that she would become depressed and I would have to put up with it somehow.

Unfortunately despite my repeated requests she declined taking the trip alone.

She put up the Christmas tree last week and over the past few nights has tried to recreate as best as possible the nativity decorations my father so dearly cherished.

Tonight she broke down, cried, and wailed for approximately thirty minutes.

I will not try to pretend and comprehend the great pain she is going through. Her husband was truly her soul mate and nothing can replace the vast void in her heart.

However, I cannot help but feel a great sense of dread at imagining the difficulties of this holiday season. There are many times that I wish I could just break down and let all my emotions run free. Yet I learned long ago that I have to keep a brave face in order for her to be fairly happy. It would be easy to be honest and I wish it could be like that, but for her sake and stability I have learned to be two-faced.

I have no clue at how I will put up with the next few months. No matter how many times I visit my shrink or try to distract myself I am certain that the upcoming weeks will be yet another challenge I have to live up to. I don’t know how I’ll do it but I’m not looking forward to putting up with more suffering than I’ve lived with over the past 26 months. Its times like these that I wish life’s answers could come on a silver platter. Reality is much different.

This is too much to bear.

I don’t think I’ll ever like the holidays again.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The tremor

Well i still haven't finalized a format for blogging from now on. Yet it feels weird to rarely write in this blog despite the myriad of thoughts running around in my mind desperately seeking an outlet for expression.

(Try saying that five times fast).

In the meantime, below is a music video from legendary rock en Español group Soda Stereo. For the past few weeks I have been listening to a lot of their songs for numerous reasons:
  • as a reminder of my youth and how it was fleeting
  • as a distraction from my troubles (Exhibit A)
  • because I really want them to come to NYC during their reunion tour

The song is called "Cuando Pasa el Temblor" ("After the Tremor"). Despite its them of love and slight double entendres, I feel that the song teaches how one can be helped by hope even when the odds are not in one's favor. (This weekend is the perfect example; I'm attending a mass in honor of the second year of dad's death).

Without further delay here is the video (link):

Why is this the "apt song" at this time for me? Check out the rough translation of the lyrics:

I, will walk between stones
Until feeling the tremor, in my legs
Sometimes I have fear, I know
At times shame

I, am seated in a desert crater
I continue waiting the tremor in my body
Nobody saw me leave, I know
Nobody waits for me

There is a crack in my heart
A planet with disillusionment

There, I will find you in those ruins
and we won't speak of the tremor
I will kiss you on your tremor, I know
It will be a good moment

There is a crack in my heart
A planet with disillusionment

The tremor,
wake me up when we pass the tremor


Monday, October 01, 2007

Retooling

I hope to post on a regular basis very soon.

I've been delayed because I want to change the format of this blog. It hasn't been interesting for months now and lately I've resorted far too often to posting YouTube videos.

Thus, until I figure out what to do and how to do it I won't blog here. I don't know when I'll return but hopefully it can be soon.

Until then, take care and g'night!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Perhaps cremation is better

The following video clip returns to the theme of humor and death that has been prevalent in several of my recent posts. It is from one of my favorite television shows- "Reno 911!"

All I have to say about the clip is that I sincerely hope that does not occur during my funeral.

(Video link):

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clouseau's anticipation

It's been a topsy-turvy month so far which is why I've been publishing so few posts with most of them being video clips.

Tonight is not an exception to this.

Below is a brief portion of one of my favorite movies- "A Shot in the Dark." The 1964 comedy was the second film in the "Pink Panther" series, and stars the inimitable Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Clouseau as well as Elke Sommer as Clouseau's love interest.

The scene has Clouseau nervously awaiting Sommer's character for interrogation at his office. Despite getting a burst of confidence it is only fleeting by the scene's end.

(Video link):


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Be prepared

Rather than mope on the subject of death, I'm opting tonight to sort of fight back. With humor.

(Video link):


(Via Metafilter).

Off tomorrow to campus to tie some loose ends. Hope it goes smoothly!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ashes to ashes

Just a few minutes ago I received some unexpected news; one of my best friends and classmates from high school passed away on Saturday. He was disabled with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and it appeared as if he passed away due to complications related to that.

It has been very sobering news and it's incredibly hard to come to grips with it. I hadn't heard anything about him in about five years. Hence, to be told that he died has come as a terrible shock.

Despite my not being in the best condition emotionally over this news I will find out if there will be a wake this week. If possible I shall try my best to attend not so much for my sakes but as a representative of his fellow class and school alumni.

In the meantime I will reminisce the many great times we had years ago. He passed away far too soon, yet I feel very fortunate to have known him. It's unjust that he had to die, yet we cope with it and try to emulate the good examples he taught.

Rest in peace, old friend.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Happy birthday guys!

In the fifteen or so minutes remaining today I want to wish you guys a very happy and joyous twenty-fifth birthday. Despite the quarrels and disagreeents we may have I am very proud of having you both as my brothers. I wouldn't change it for the world and I sincerely hope your future is bright and that all your dreams can come true.

All corny mushiness aside I hope you both enjoy these videos:



Friday, September 14, 2007

Longing

I miss her.

I really miss her.

It has to be the reason why I oftentimes think of her suddenly and without warning.

It's weird because I've had plenty of crushes and "puppy love" situations before, but she has been the only one really felt something significant towards. My cynical voice doesn't believe such feelings would qualify as love, yet my self-doubting voice disagrees with such an assessment.

One thing I would not call it is infatuation since all I have are simple, "what-if" thoughts and nothing more. I haven't heard from her in nearly two years, but I feel no particular rush in communicating with her. Perhaps it would help to send a benign and friendly message though I'm leaning towards allowing Fate to decide our respective courses.

I think that another reason why I've had this longing for her has been since Venegas has politely turned down my invites for a date. (She's been very occupied and recently started a new job). No, I haven't mentioned to her that I wouldn't mind for us to be a couple and it will most likely stay that way especially with my feelings towards the one left behind. (I still haven't figured out a pseudonym for her).

For now I shall continue biding my time and conforming to whatever happens happens. As I've learned a long time ago, often one's best laid plans never come to fruition. Thus, I will keep hoping that a prime opportunity is around the corner irrespective of the odds of that happening.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The benefits of benevolence

I've been a wreck for the past few days. Mourning and being nostalgic for my father doesn't usually brighten my spirits. Much like last year I try to live without regrets and move forward little buy little. Yet the pain from dad's death as well as 9/11 continue to hover like a fog in my mind.

One of the many lessons my dad taught me is never take things lying down and to always fight for justice. For the most part it has its advantages in that I've learned to try to be virtuous and become a more independent person. The downside to which I fall trap of is that I sometimes cross the thin line between being correct and being bullheaded.

head of the household since his passing away. In doing so, I've taken up a multitude of responsibilities that have been thrust upon me. It's a role I take great pride in doing even in those rare occasions that I Yet my main point is that he was wise in telling me his advice since I've become the de factowould not like to.

My ultimate hope is that when all is said and done I've done an extraordinary job not necessarily for my sake but for my family and loved ones.

I am certain he would not have wanted it any other way.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Weeping and praying

Tomorrow and Tuesday constitute the toughest 48-hour period for me to get through. September 10th will be the second anniversary of my dad's death while the next day will be the six-year mark of the 9/11 attacks.

control her emotions. It's incredibly hard to put up with so much suffering and I don't blame her for her constant crying and lamenting. Unfortunately, such actions provide me with little solace and Tonight was very difficult in that we were praying all together yet my mom justifiably could notonly serves to feed the hidden anger I have over his passing.

Two years.

It's quite a long time.

I don't know with what strength, energy, or sanity we've managed to make it to this point. But even in my grief and sadness I'm glad that we've gotten to this point.

And hopeful that we will continue for many years to come.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Moz on the Great White Way

Image of Lt. Jim Dangle with his trusty Morrissey shirt on via RGJ.com

Last month I wrote about had expectations that the rescheduled concerts by Morrissey in New York would be reasonably priced. Instead to my chagrin tickets are being sold in the presale at $65 a seat. Hence, I would not push for going to one of his gigs.

But a few moments ago I read something on NME.com that caught my attention:

"A 'We Will Rock You'-style musical based on Morrissey's songs is currently in the works.

The idea has been conceived by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, who both starred in 'Reno 911!'...Lennon told New York Metro: "I have an outline in my head, like 'Mamma Mia'- type musical but with them music of Morrissey called 'I've Changed My Plea To Guilty'. It's for a very diehard set of fans."

Oh yes!

If musicals on ABBA and doo-wop music can gain prominence on Broadway than so can one based on Mozzer. More so if it's co-written by such a great writer and huge Moz fan as Lennon is.

I will be on the lookout for when and where the musical opens. I don't know how, but I will somehow find cheap tickets for that musical since I wouldn't want to miss it at all!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ciao Luciano

Last night I mentioned that I would discuss futbol for today’s post, but the death of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti has taken my attention.

I am far from being an opera buff and those that know me best are surprised to know that I have a dislike for opera.

Yet one would be an imbecile to not acknowledge the impact Pavarotti had on the music scene. For several decades he was the tenor. It was an event to hear him perform in operatic plays despite his supposed difficulties with acting. His concerts where the main ticket in town. No ifs ands or buts. Even his recent personal problems became front page tabloid fodder.

Nobody in my immediate family are big opera fans. Not even my dad who had a very keen and broad ear for music. But when “The Three Tenors” gained prominence nearly twenty years ago he was vociferously singing their praises. I long ago lost count of the number of times he watched the trio of Pavarotti, Carreras, and Domingo on TV. I could never figure out why he was so enthralled by them and to this day it’s still a mystery. Yet he absolutely appreciated them. His enthusiasm taught me a valuable lesson: be appreciative and receptive of all things even if you don’t like them.

The following is a live concert clip of Pavarotti performing with legendary Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso. Pavarotti’s versatility is on display in his fantastic interpretation of “Manhã da Carnaval” (video link):

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"This is Telemundo! The Spanish language....television network!"

Tomorrow I'll reminisce over a very happy day as a soccer fan and Colombian hincha that occurred in 1993. (Here's a small hint).

In the meantime, as I was looking at futbol clips on YouTube I found an absolute gem. It's a goal from an early 1990s match between the U.S. and Colombia that prominently involved two future MetroStars: Adolfo "el Tren" Valencia and Tony Meola.

The most interesting part of the clip is the voice calling the game: Tony Tirado. The former NASL goalie was a staple of soccer broadcasts on Univision's precursor: SIN. Tirado bolted to Telemundo after Andres Cantor become the head play-by-play announcer on that network. Tirado's deal included hosting a weekly half-hour show- "De Gol a Gol"- that lasted only a few months. Yet the bigger change was that despite having Norberto Longo as the color commentator on SIN, Tirado announced many (if not all) matches alone in the booth.

Tirado's style of narration was simple without adding an overabundance of details nor speaking at breakneck speed. Still, he was keen on narrating along with the flow of action and he left little dead air.

He was also very prescient in knowing that not everyone watching the matches was fluent in Spanish. (Remember, he was on TV in the pre-MLS days when watching a tape-delayed World Cup game was cutting edge). Hence, he peppered the games with phrases in English; one of them being the title to this post.

With that said, here's the clip. (Video link):

Cheers Tony!

Monday, September 03, 2007

The bliss that is Guinness

Mercifully, I am in a much better mood than last night. For the time being I will stick to what I said though in better spirits than when I wrote last night’s entry.

Aside from my improved mood, very little can be said for today aside from the fact that I was a lazy bastard and sat in front of the TV all day. (“Reno 911” in the morning, “No Reservations” and Pedro’s return to the mound in the afternoon, and VH1 Classic at night).

I will say little else for tonight except to show this clip from the beginning of the episode of “No Reservations” on Ireland. It’s amazing what a pint of Guinness can do to bring people together (video link):

p.s. Hey! I just realized that yesterday’s post was my hundredth for the year! Hooray-ah for me (*in Strong Bad’s voice*)!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The pitfalls of benevolence

Over this holiday weekend I learned a very valuable lesson:

Be more selfish.

For over a month I have planning for the family to take advantage of the Labor Day Weekend in order to go out and have fun. The original plan was to go to Coney Island on Saturday but decided to change that mainly since I did not want to put up with the massive crowds that would descend there. (It’s a pet peeve of mine, I confess, to be around huge crowds of people. This is why I don’t like tourist traps.)

As a viable alternative I suggested going out to eat instead. Several ideas were floated and then supposedly decided on but they would be scrapped in favor of going to another restaurant or not going out altogether. Throughout the process I was more than willing to go along with everyone else for the sake of trying to find a solution best for all of us. It may not have been my choice to go to restaurant “A”, for instance, but if they wanted to then I would be comfortable with that.

Unfortunately the storm of indecision was leaving me drenched in anger and disillusionment.

Take this morning for example. Last night we all agreed to go Monday to a nearby Dominican joint and that I would call Access-A-Ride Sunday afternoon to arrange transportation. Yet shortly after waking up and getting the phone I was told that everyone else changed their minds and would be going to a Colombian place in Jackson Heights. My enthusiasm for going to what was originally chosen vanished as yet again plans were made then modified at the drop of a hat.

The straw that broke my back was that after arranging transportation to go to Jackson Heights my mom changes her mind s she could stay home and watch the Mets game. I couldn’t take it anymore after conforming to everyone else’s always-changing preferences for two days. I really wanted to go out this weekend and I eagerly anticipated doing so. Only that notion went up in a proverbial poof of smoke.

Worse still, I’ve been getting blamed for thinking of others ahead of myself. “That’s always been your weakness,” mom accusingly told me. “You’re too much of a conformist” she tries to rub in my face with.

With all my faults being tossed at me I came up with the obvious conclusion:

Be more selfish.

There are inherent risks with acting in that manner; chiefly, it is of not saying what I mean as well as rubbing others the wrong way.

But at this point I’m just disgusted and upset and disappointed and rattled. If things didn’t work out before then perhaps a different tact will get results.

If not then I’ll revert back.

I don’t care what works as long as it does.

Right now I’m at my wit’s end and desperately want something to work.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Humour

Shit, I just remembered that Friday was International Blog Day. I’ll list my five blog choices and their respective descriptions for tomorrow’s entry.

In the meantime, I want to do a brief follow-up to a post I wrote on Monday on 1994 British satire program “The Day Today.” On one of the show's correspondents- Collaterlie Sisters- I mentioned that she:

“heads the finance desk and her ineptitude and bouts of newspeak Tourette's are far too silly. She would make a welcome addition with Jim Creamer who would probably have an aneurism after being 15 minutes in her presence.”

The character is played by Surrey-born Scottish-raised actress Doon Mackichan who has gone on to a more famous role in the all-female sketch comedy program “Smack The Pony” (STP). The program lasted from 1999 to 2003 and showcased Mackichan along with Fiona Allen and Sally Phillips.

Several of the sketches are available online and highlight such things as relationships and spoofs dating agency vids. One of the most uproarious sketches from STP (partly due to its somewhat taboo matter) is entitled “Lesbian Kiss” (video link):

The outtake of the sketch is even funnier! (Video link):

Fantastic humor from across the Atlantic. Is there anything Brits can’t do?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I’m truly sorry but it would've been a wonderful thing

I would very much like to see Morrissey again in concert. Despite having a fantastic time during his performance at the Apollo two years ago I just couldn’t afford to buy tickets for his then-postponed appearance earlier this year at Madison Square Garden. “$75 is far too much even if one is sitting mere inches from the stage”, I said to myself back then.

Thankfully and to my complete surprise he rescheduled several shows including in NYC including five nights at the Hammerstein Ballroom! “Better and smaller venue = lower ticket prices,” I exclaimed to my brothers as I salivated the chance to go see him in late October.

Wrong!

I am hoping that there will be cheaper seats available but if sixty-five bucks is the only price option then count me out. Despite the artist’s supposed admission that he has no involvement in the ticket pricing I just won’t go. It’s a simple mater of economics; for the price of one ticket I can put the money to better use paying the bills at home, for instance.

But that’s the way things have been for me over the past few years; sacrificing many selfish goodies in order to help my family. (For example, I am my mom’s de facto shrink even when I wish to not listen to her problems). It’s a role I’ve learned to accept for quite a while now and I doubt it will change any time soon.

In the end it works out for everyone and that’s what matters most.

Monday, August 27, 2007

“This is the news…Welcome!”

Earlier this month, I posted a YouTube video of Alan Partridge’s guide to the 1994 World Cup. Little did I realize at the time that he really did tape that in ’94 as part of a scathingly satirical faux news program called “The Day Today” (TDT). I was absolutely in stitches after finding several more videos of that program online.

It would be far too easy to compare TDT to more contemporary fare like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (TDSJS) but TDT stands in its own right. Despite the fact that TDT was a British program one can easily understand the politicos, trends, and media that they skewer so accurately. TDT is an absolute gem.

One of the segments that most amuses me is the interaction between lead anchor Chris Morris and business dope Peter O’Hanra-Hanrahan. Peter’s mix of hubris and idiocy angers Morris who revels in humiliating him (video link):

Collaterlie Sisters heads the finance desk and her ineptitude and bouts of newspeak Tourette's is far too silly. She would make a welcome addition with Jim Creamer who would probably have an aneurism after being 15 minutes in her presence.

Let’s take a glance at the “currency arse” (video link):

Satire done right can be a thing of magic. TDT certainly proves it.

I will never watch TDSJS in the same light ever again, especially if I substitute John Hodgeman for Peter O’Hanra-Hanrahan.

p.s. If I ever do a fantasy sport thing I will name my team Alf Ramsey’s Porn Dungeon after watching this clip. (Sounds better than Christ’s Chin, in my opinion).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Self help

After chatting with some friends and blowing my gasket a few times this weekend I have come to the revelation that I need to make some major changes in my life. These changes are simple but they will help me immensely in the short and long run. The way I see it is that I will pay some very heavy consequences soon if I do not improve my total well-being in several areas:

BODY

Lately I have not been eating well due to negligence and lack of initiative on my part. “I don’t care eat I eat so as long as I do eat” has been my mantra over the past few weeks and that has stop. Hence, I hope to eat a healthier, more well-balanced diet.

In addition, I used to exercise on a near-daily basis every day for most of the summer but apathy put a halt to that for the mast month. My body has felt heavier and my mobility has been encumbered by excess fat. Therefore, I aim to return to my regular exercise routine in conjunction with dieting.

TEMPER

I have been reverting to an old fault that had plagued me during my darkest days years ago and that was of losing my temper due to trivialities. On Saturday, for instance, I went nuts since I dropped a bit of food and it slightly stained my shirt. Last weekend I drove my brothers up the wall since they did not make a semi-important phone call that was not as urgent as my anger suggested.

Along with not altering myself over little things it is imperative that I find appropriate avenues I which to vent my frustration. Tonight I argued with “the flea” over his irresponsibility balancing work with his social life and my mom and other brother yelled at me to “calm down” almost as much as I was screaming at him. This is the fault that will be the most tricky to solve. However I cannot continue to hold in my emotions despite giving a veneer of calmness.

CYNACISM

For as long as I can remember one of my Achilles heels is that I revert far too often to sarcasm as a tool for defense and attack in conversations. At times it can be done jokingly but ore often that not I interject sarcasm to hurt and injure others. The negative use of sarcasm is something I need to let go of.

Moreover, my glass tends to be half-empty rather than half-full. Such an outlook is not inherently bad except when it leads to an excess of complaining, bitching, nit-picking, and malaise. This is what is going on with me and I didn’t realize it until a few other days ago when an acquaintance confided to me. At the time it was a shocking revelation though in retrospect it was something that I should have figured out on my own. Better late than never, perhaps?

SOCIAL

Apart from chatting once in a while with friends and the occasional e-mail my social life is nonexistent. I had hoped to change that over the summer but that has yet to come about. Hopefully I can drag out one of my friends to catch a film with me on Tuesday night though I need to make a more concerted effort to keep in touch with those that were and continue to be close to me.

I need to go out more often. It’s as simple as that. Of the nine summer concerts I had hoped to attend I eventually ended up going to none! (The reasons why will be examined in a separate post). Yes it’s good that I stay at home to take care of my responsibilities but there’s more to that. Going out is something I must take advantage of especially before the winter weather makes things too difficult.

Much like I’m smart for certain things I need to wise up in other which is why I’m glad that I can acknowledge my faults.

Now the heard part comes in: executing the changes that need to be done and sticking to them.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

S.O.M.

I’ve been a fan of the MetroStars/Red Bull New York franchise ever since its inception over a decade ago. In that time, there is an art phrase used by diehard fans to describe the team’s performance over the years:

“Same Old Metro”

Simply put, it is the inevitable letdown/collapse the team suffers after reaching some high point.

There are far too many examples of S.O.M. over the years and include:

  • The infamous Nicola Caricola own-goal during the first ever Metro home game.
  • The seeming inevitably of a shootout to decide Metros’ first playoff series in 1996…only for Rob Johnson to concede the series-losing PK to DC in the 89th minute.
  • Youri Djorkaeff scoring a second goal to apparently clinch a playoff series in 2006 over the Revolution…only for New England to score 3 unanswered goals in 15 minutes to win the series.
  • The chance to extract vengeance against DC a decade later in the playoffs with the series tied 1-1 in aggregate goals…only to have Christian Gomez score with four minutes left in regulation.
  • The failed promises from the likes of Ruben Dario Hernandez, Lothar Mattheus, and Alexi “superteam” Lalas.

The list can go on and on, but I bring up the concept of S.O.M. because I’m left repeating that phrase endlessly in my mind after tonight’s cruel 2-1 loss at New England.

It had been one week since what has thus far been the game of the year, if not ever: the 5-4 home win during the maelstrom that was David Beckham’s debut in the NYC area. It was an absolutely magical match to see nearly 70,000 strong at the Meadowlands while each team fought it out. Yes there was a notable contingent of Beckham groupies (*cough* Tom Arnold *cough*) and the defenses for both teams were atrocious but it was an uplifting game that RBNY won. Despite knowing that the next two games wouldn’t be a cakewalk there was the blind faith and optimism that perhaps the team could turn the corner once and for all. Even one point out of those games would've been encouraging.

Instead S.O.M. reared its ugly head during the lifeless effort at DC on Wednesday. (Dear god how I loathe Jaime Moreno).

And S.O.M. showed up once more in tonight’s heartbreak loss at New England after Carlos Mendes’ smashing game-losing own-goal in the 80th. (With Jon Conway’s complicity, of course).

Normally I’m a bit angry after New York loses. But tonight I feel shell-shocked and numb. The notion that maybe it’ll get better has yet to cross my mind. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m being too pessimistic but once again the specter of S.O.M. got the better of me. I should’ve known better.

Ultimately, I know that a week from now I’ll join roughly 1,000 other fans in watching RBNY on MSG next Saturday. In a way it’s masochistic to keep dancing the same dance but one of these days S.O.M. must go away.

(Assuming that it will, that is).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sleepy head

I hate feeling stir crazy but that’s how I’ve been for the past week. It’s not that I want to leave my house, but it’s more a case of tossing all my stresses aside. Alas, that won’t happen anytime soon.

So far the summer has been relatively uneventful much like, unfortunately, last year. There’s another ten days or so until Labor Day so hopefully I can make up for lost time.

In the meantime, I have to get a ton of papers ready for Thursday since I have an appointment at the local SSI office. Oh fun!

You go to do what you got to do. There’s little alternative to that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A proud member of the François Pignon fan club

I’m going to play it lazy tonight by showing the trailer to one of my favorite movies, “Le Diner de Cons” (“The Dinner Game”). It is a French comedic film directed by Francis Veber, and it revolves around a Parisian businessman who finds an “idiot” to bring to a weekly “idiots dinner.’ But in the end it is the “idiot” who turns the tables against his supposed superior.

Naturally the trailer is in French but there’s a fair deal of physical comedy so that can be appreciated in the clip.

Enjoy! (Video link):

Monday, August 20, 2007

Aid to our Peruvian brothers

Image via MSNBC

"It is a denial of justice not to stretch out a helping hand to the fallen; that it the common right of humanity." -- Seneca the Elder

I don't like to toot my own horn (so to speak) but the following is a partial reproduction of a post I wrote up on The Latin Americanist yesterday calling for help for survivors of last week's quakes in Peru:

"You can help provide assistance to Peruvians in several ways:
  • Several Peruvian Consulates in the U.S. have appealed for aid to quake victims. For instance, the Consulate in Miami has issued a comprehensive list of items for donation including clothes, medical equipment, batteries, cots, and medicine. Other consulates in areas such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta have their own suggestions on how to help and that information can be accessed here.
  • A special bank account has been established for direct deposit donations for the recovery effort: “HSBC Bank, USA
    Account Name: Embassy of Peru - Sismo Peru 2007
    Account Number: 389060178
    Routing Number: 021001088”
  • Lastly, several well-known international charities have also set up donation funds including the American Red Cross, Oxfam America, and CARE. (More charities donating to rescue efforts can be seen via the Charity Navigator site.)"

Blog Latina Viva has been thoughtful enough to reproduce that post as part of their call for assistance. I'm very thankful for that and hope others can heed their call.

The other day my mom, brothers, and I talked briefly on the destruction and devastation left behind by the earthquakes. We agreed that we will provide a small monetary donation to a well-known charity like Oxfam or the Red Cross. Though we're not completely sure how much it will be we hope that it will provide some tiny solace to those whose lives have been changed radically by the tremors.

It's the very least we can do.